Saturday, November 12, 2011

Jamey Carroll, Wilson Ramos and Charlie Lea

Word all over the Internet Friday night had the Twins and infielder Jamey Carroll agreeing to a two-year deal totalling $7 million, with the intent of making the veteran the shortstop.

I'll wait to dig into Carroll until the Twins (a) confirm the signing and (b) explain how they intend to use him.


Wilson Ramos is alive and free in Venezuela.
Wilson Ramos, the kidnapped catcher for the Washington Nationals and sore spot for critics of Bill Smith, was rescued from his abductors Friday in Venezuela.

That's very good news, but the damage done to baseball in Venezuela -- not only by this high-profile case but by other crimes as well -- may be irreparable. The story of Twins outfielder Joe Benson, robbed at gunpoint almost immediately upon leaving the airport, is hardly unique. Where once almost every major league team had a full-time academy operating in that country, now there are just five.

There are 81 active major leaguers from Venezuela, and more minor leaguers than that pursuing the dream. But it's becoming increasingly risky to scout for players there -- and increasingly risky to be a player there. It's not a healthy situation by any means.


Charlie Lea fires the first pitch of
the 1984 All Star game in San Francisco.
He won 15 games that year for
Charlie Lea, former major league pitcher who ended his career with the Twins in 1988, died Friday.

Fans of a certain age are more likely to remember Lea as a member of the Montreal Expos, for whom he had five good to decent years, including an All-Star appearance. Then he was beset by arm injuries.

He went 7-7 with a 4.85 ERA for the Twins in his one season in Minnesota, and I remember him because it sure seemed like I was at every one of his Metrodome starts.

I had a partial season ticket package back then -- 26 games, including every Saturday, every Monday, and day games during the week. (The Free Press was an afternoon paper in that bygone era, with no Sunday paper.) The luck of the rotation meant that I saw Frank Viola, who won the Cy Young, twice all season, but drew Lea far too often.

He had been a good pitcher once, but that time was past.

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